Gary Neville believes Jose Mourinho’s recent attack on Luke Shaw masks a wider problem occurring at Manchester United.
The left-back was hooked off at half time against Brighton and Hove Albion and, not for the first time, chastised by his manager in the aftermath.
Shaw will leave the club in the summer, according to the BBC, and his fellow teammates are said to have been shocked by Jose Mourinho’s comments.
And Neville, when asked about the situation on Sky Sports, noted that the latest episode misses the wider issue at Old Trafford.
“United spent a lot of money and the aspiration was to win the Premier League and go as far as they could in the Champions League and obviously neither have happened.
“The issue for me isn’t the individuals – whether Shaw, Paul Pogba or Alexis Sanchez are underperforming – but that the team aren’t very consistent, which over the course of Mourinho’s career his teams have always been.”
“What I would say about Shaw is that the talent and ability are there, but his job as a footballer is to be prepared to perform every day and do every single thing in his life well to be a United player.
“At the moment, his potential is not being recognised. I’ve got a great belief in Luke Shaw and the reality is it would be a great shame if he leaves United without fulfilling his potential.”
Mourinho noted after the win over Brighton that he was disappointed with a number of players. His anger at a performance laced with fear and disunity was palpable, yet the only player he name-checked in the aftermath – apart from praising Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay – was Shaw once again.
And this has inevitably grabbed the attention of the commentariat, leaving unanalysed the fact that United’s performance was well off the pace. He did the exact same thing following defeat to Watford and draw with Everton last year.
This has always been a cancerous aspect of Mourinho’s character: to drag the narrative away from his players – who, in this particular case, he has known for almost two years and still not moulded into a side with a particular way of setting up or playing – and focus the shortcomings of one individual instead, with Shaw serving as his favourite chew-toy at Old Trafford.